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Michelle Larsen

Professor Stephen Voorhes


Music 1010
16 March 2016
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
BIOGRAPHY

From the age of nine, Andrew McMahon was already a talented


musician. With a gift and a passion for playing the piano and writing
songs, he was well on his way toward a life in musical success. By the
time he got to high school he was in a band called Something
Corporate. Shortly after graduation, they received a record deal and
sold over 700,000 copies of their album (Sun, Winnie.) Something
Corporate also had the opportunity to go on a world tour, which
Andrew mentions as a song lyric in his most popular solo song
according to Spotify, Cecilia and the Satellite.
In 2005, Andrew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic
leukemia (Sun, Winnie.) He had been practicing and rehearsing for an
upcoming tour for his new band, Jacks Mannequin, when he came
down with a horrible case of pharyngitis. Needing his voice to sing and
perform, he visited a doctor, thinking it was a simple fix. The doctor
told him that he didnt look well, and ran a few blood panels. These

tests revealed that he was severely anemic, and shortly thereafter,


the doctors discovered that he had cancer (Sun, Winnie.)
Andrews journey with cancer changed who he was as a person
and a musician. He documented much of his experience on video,
which later helped create his documentary, Dear Jack. He spent less
time writing and performing music due to his condition, but his
dedication and love for music never went away (Dear Jack.)
Andrew wrote only one song while in the hospital (Sun,
Winnie.) The song is called There, There, Katie. It was written during
the time his sister, who was a donor match with him, volunteered to do
a stem cell transplant. This would help Andrews body create more
blood cells that would raise his blood count, improve his anemia, and
put his cancer into remission. The procedure worked, and Andrew was
well on his way to a full recovery.
After his recovery, he was able to perform with his band Jacks
Mannequin again. Their first album, Everything in Transit, was
released, and sold over 25,000 copies within the first week (Harrison,
Pier.) After much hard work and many trials, it seemed that things were
beginning to pay off. He was living the life of going on tour, being with
his wife, and starting a family.
After many years of playing with his band, Andrew ventured out
with a new solo project, which has become more successful than the
last project: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. With songs inspired

by his daughter Cecilia and by the times he went around the world
with a punk rock band, (Andrew McMahon) his new sound is a mix
between indie pop and alternative rock. It features a variety of
instruments, from the piano and acoustic guitar to the drums and an
electric keyboard.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness recently went on tour, where
Andrew performed his new music as well as some old favorites from his
time with Jacks Mannequin and Something Corporate. There, he also
promoted his organization, the Dear Jack Foundation, which helps
raise funds and awareness for children and young adults with
cancer (Andrewmcmahon.com.)

Musical History and Information


For Andrew McMahon, his life has always been mostly about the
music. Even in his documentary, Dear Jack, which shows his life while
he was dealing with cancer, he states, its deeply personal, but its
about the music too.
During this period of time that the documentary was filmed,
Andrew wrote a song titled There, there, Katie. This song was for
Andrews sister, the previously mentioned stem cell donor that saved
his life. During the song, the lyrics show how brave he thinks she is. He
sings that he would do anything for her, if the situations were reversed.

He talks about how he wants her to be happy, and that he is sorry that
she has to go through this with him.
This song is categorized in the popular song genre, with the subgenre of alternative rock. This song is mellower than most other Jacks
Mannequin songs. The instruments featured are the piano, violin,
vocals, and a little bit of drums. The song starts with just the piano,
with the strings coming in after the end of the first chorus, and the
drums entering in to provide a steady, foot-tapping beat that helps the
song build to a climax. The vocals and lyrics mean a lot in this song,
and they are the main source of emotion the audience feels in this
song. This song has two verses, each followed by a chorus. There is a
bridge after the second chorus, and the song ends with the same lyrics
as the beginning few seconds of the song.
In Dear Jack, Andrew and his girlfriend were shown fighting the
battle of recovery together. Many of the songs on the Jacks Mannequin
album, Transit, were written for her. In a question and answer session
written by Pier Harrison, Andrew states, We ended up focusing a lot on
Transit and my separation from my girlfriend, for whom I wrote a lot of
that record. Andrews feelings for his girlfriend (and now wife) are
most easily shown in his song The Mixed Tape, which basically tells
how he wrote his first album for her, and how much he loved and
missed her. (Dear Jack.) He questions how things got bad in the first

place, and how he is writing a song for her to hopefully get back into
her heart and win her over again.
This song features sounds from the electric guitar, bass, drums,
piano, and vocals, putting this piece in the alternative rock category
again. This song begins with a few chords played on the electric guitar,
and this same sound happens in between every verse and chorus
throughout the song, with the other instruments entering at various
moments and building up the overall sound. This song follows the
structure of a popular song, with 2 verses, each followed by a chorus, a
bridge, which is followed by another chorus, and ending with a
concluding two lines of lyrics which are new to the song and end the
piece without a fadeout.
Though Andrew still performs with his former band mates, the
most success he has gained has come from his solo project, Andrew
McMahon in the Wilderness. His most popular song is an indie pop
song titled, Cecilia and the Satellite. This song is about his daughter
Cecilia, and was written to tell her about her fathers life before she
was born, and to let her know that he would always be there through
all the events and trials in her own life. Andrew McMahon has said, I
wanted her to be able to look back and know who her dad was before
she was born, the successes and failures, and for her to know Id be
there for her through the same highs and lows. (Carlin, Shannon;
Radio.com)

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness can be categorized under the


category indie pop, which is different in a few ways from Andrews
earlier songs. However, the structure of many of his songs follows the
same popular song pattern. Cecilia and the Satellite again has 2
verses, each followed by a chorus, a bridge following the second
chorus, and a final chorus after the bridge. This song ends by repeating
the last line in the chorus three times as a finale. The instruments
featured in this particular song are piano, vocals, and drums, though
the keyboard synthesizer has been used in a few different versions of
the song as well.

Listening Guide
There, there, Katie
0:00-0:10-Introduction of the song, with only the piano playing.
0:10-0:42- First verse starts with the line, Katie, youre a brave
girl/And I know its only just starting. This line is brought up again
later in the song for continuity, and starts the song off with a personal
feel to it. The audience knows exactly whom the song is for; they know
the song is for Katie. In the middle of the verse, Andrew McMahon
sings, Katie its a strange world/And girls can get so broken hearted.
The piano is the only instrument accompanying the vocals.
0:43-1:16-First chorus; the piano remains the only accompanying
instrument.

1:16-End of the first chorus. The strings enter in, with the violin being
played along with the piano.
1:17-1:25-Instrumental break, with just the violin and piano playing for
eight seconds to help transition into the second verse.
1:25-1:55-Beginning of second verse. This verse has the same pattern
as the first verse. It begins again with the line, Katie, youre a brave
girl. This verse replaces the line and I know its only just started
with courage is something Ill need know. In the middle of the
chorus, he sings again, Katie its a strange world/As I watch our tables
get turned around. The continuity is common in popular songs, such
as this one.
1:56-2:26-Chorus. In this second chorus, the drums start to play with
the other instruments. The crescendo this creates lets the audience
know that the song is almost at the climax.
2:27-2:55-Bridge. The bridge starts with a few whoa, whoa lyrics, and
is followed by a few more lines that help transition into the finale of the
song.
2:56-3:27-Chorus. All instruments play. This last chorus is the climax of
the song.
3:37-3:46-Repetition of the last words of the chorus: Were really not
there/I said were really not there.
3:46-3:58-Song concludes with the beginning lyrics again, Katie,
youre a brave girl/And I know its only just started.

End.
The Mixed Tape
0:00-0:08-Introduction, song starts with a few notes being played on
the guitar.
0:00-0:13-First verse starts; the first two lines of the song are said with
only the one guitar strumming a few notes in accompaniment.
0:14-0:30-First verse continues, with the bass and drums entering in
abruptly and suddenly.
0:31-0:56-Chorus. The guitar, bass, and drums still play, but the piano
can be heard now playing the melody.
0:57-1:22-Second verse starts. There is continuity in the notes played,
but the lyrics are not the same. This verse starts again with just a few
notes being played by the guitar, and being joined seconds later by the
bass, drums, and piano.
1:23-1:44-Chorus.
1:44-2:00-Musical break between the second chorus and the bridge.
The piano is heard above the other instruments.
2:00-2:19-Bridge. The bridge of this song is simply the line I cant get
to you, repeated four times. You can hear background singers; their
only line is ah, ah.
2:19-2:46-Chorus begins again. This chorus is mostly the same as the
first two, but the lines, As I rearrange the songs again/This mix could
burn a hole in anyone is replaced with the lines, As Im cutting

through you track by track/I swear to God this mix could sink the sun.
This little difference makes the song interesting.
2:46-3:14-The song ends by repeating the lines, Where are you now?
twice, followed by new lyrics, This is my mixed tape for her/Its like I
wrote every note with my own fingers. This ends the song without the
usual popular song fade-out, and tells the audience whom the song
was written for and why.
End.
Cecilia and the Satellite
0:00-0:04-Introduction for this song is simply two notes played on
piano, with the synthesizer providing a subtle beat.
0:05-0:49-First verse. Piano plays notes intermittently and staccato,
while the synthesizer continues to play the beat. The first verse ends
with the line, For all the things my eyes have seen/The best by far is
you.
0:50-1:11-Chorus.
1:12-1:21-Immediately after the lyrics at the end of the chorus, and
youre the sky, more instruments enter, and the music crescendos.
The drums enter in, and the piano continues to play. Background
singers enter in with the line, Oh, whoa, oh, whoa.
1:21-1:44-Verse 2. Follows the same pattern as verse 1. There is
continuity in the end of the verse. Instead of singing For all the things

my eyes have seen/The best by far is you, Andrew McMahon sings,


For all the places I have been/Im no place without you.
1:45-2:05-Chorus
2:05-2:14-Oh, whoa, repeated twice again following the last lyric of
the chorus, and youre the sky.
2:15-2:35-Bridge of the song. Continuity is again seen. The lyrics for
the bridge of the song are, For all the things my hands have held, the
best by far is you. This line is similar to the last lines of verse 1 and
verse 2.
2:35-2:57-Third chorus and climax of the song.
2:58-3:24-the line And youre the sky is repeated twice, followed by
the line Im the satellite. Then And youre the sky is repeated two
more times.
3:24-3:43-Piano plays until the end.
End.

Conclusion
Over the course of many years, Andrew McMahon has evolved as
a person, and this has shown up in his music. From a punk rock band in
high school in the nineties, to an alternative rock band in the early
2000s, to an indie pop solo artist. He has traveled the world on tour,
fought and overcome cancer, sold thousands of albums, started a
family, and toured even more. His music has changed as he has, and

his success has been well earned with his hard work. His passion for
music and talent for writing and playing and performing music has led
him to be the popular artist that he is now.

Works Cited
1. Sun, Winnie. "Andrew McMahon: A Musical Prodigy, Cancer Survivor,
and Millennial Saver." Forbes.com. Web.
2.http://www.andrewmcmahon.com/
3.Harrison,Pier.Q&A:AndrewMcMahonofJacksMannequin.Web.
4.Carlin,Shannon.AndrewMcMahonSingsStoriesforHisDaughteronCeciliaand
theSatellite.Radio.com.Web.
5. Dear Jack. Dir. Corey Moss. Perf. Andrew McMahon. 2009. Netflix.
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